She composed A Raisin in the Sun, a play of a struggling black family, which started on Broadway to great success. Hansberry was the very first black playwright as well as the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award. Throughout her life she was greatly involved in civil rights. She died at 34 of pancreatic cancer.
Playwright, writer, activist. The granddaughter of a liberated slave, as well as the youngest by seven years of four kids, Lorraine Vivian Hansberry 3rd was created on May 19, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois. Hansberry’s dad proved to be a successful property broker, and her mom was a schoolteacher. Her parents put substantial amounts of cash to the NAACP as well as the Urban League. In 1938, Hansberry’s family moved into a white neighborhood and was violently assaulted by neighbors. Hansberry broke her family’s tradition of registering in Southern black schools and instead attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison. While at school, she changed her major from painting to composing, and after two years chose to drop out as well as move to Nyc.
She also worked part time as a waiter and cashier, and composed in her free time. By 1956, Hansberry leave her occupations and devoted her time to writing. In 1957, she joined the Daughters of Bilitis and given letters for their magazine, The Ladder, about feminism and homophobia. Her lesbian identity was exposed in the posts, but she wrote under her initials, L.H., for fear of discrimination.
It was the very first play produced on Broadway by an African American girl, and Hansberry was the very first black playwright as well as the youngest American to win a New York Critics’ Circle award. The movie version of A Raisin in the Sun was finished in 1961, starring Sidney Poitier, and received an award in the Cannes Film Festival.
In 1963, her second play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, started on Broadway to unenthusiastic reception.
Hansberry met Robert Nemiroff, a Jewish songwriter, on a picket line, as well as the two were married in 1953. Hansberry and Nemiroff divorced in 1962, though they continued to work jointly. In 1964, the exact same year The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window started, Hansberry was identified as having pancreatic cancer. She expired on January 12, 1965. After her departure, Nemiroff accommodated a number of her writing and interviews in To Be Young, Gifted and Black, which started off Broadway in the Cherry Lane Theatre and ran for eight months.
A Raisin in the Sun is regarded as among the hallmarks of the American stage andhas continued to discover new audiences through the decades, including Emmy-nominated television productions from both 1989 and 2008.